Just days after a cold snap sent temperatures plunging into the single digits Boston is opening a new shelter to house as many as 500 of the 700 homeless people displaced when the city’s largest shelter on Long Island closed in October.
The former city transportation building at 112 Southampton St. in the South End will house 100 men once it opens Tuesday evening. Eventually, city officials hope to pack the shelter with roughly 500 people.
The Long Island shelters was Boston’s largest homeless facility before a bridge connecting the island to the mainland was condemned.
City officials declined to release specifics about the shelter Monday, though more information is expected following a media event Thursday.
Barbara Trevisan, communications director for Boston shelter Pine Street Inn, says the opening of the shelter should help alleviate a surge in overcrowding at shelters across the city due to cold weather.
“Obviously it’s a big step in the right direction having the Southampton Street shelter open,” said Trevisan. “There has been increased demand over the last few months. The closing of the Long Island shelter combined with cold weather really put a lot of pressure on Pine Street Inn and other shelters across the city.”
Trevisan said Pine Street Inn has been forced to operate beyond its capacity of 700 people. About 100 more homeless individuals have been sheltered there, some sleeping on mats and cots in the dining hall and lobby.
“We’ve also been transporting people to other shelters where there has been some available space. It’s been quite hectic,” said Trevisan.
In a recent interview with The Boston Globe, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said once renovations are complete on the two-story brick building, the Southampton Street shelter will be “a state-of-the-art facility — probably the best in the country for the homeless.”